3 Reasons to Call a Workplace Injury Lawyer Right After an Injury
“The best time to call a workplace injury lawyer is right after you get hurt. The second-best time is now.”—ancient proverb, probably.
When a workplace injury occurs, most employees expect their employer to help them. People believe that simply mentioning the injury or accident to their boss will automatically lead to spontaneous offers of free medical care and paid time off while they recover from their injuries.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. If you get injured at work or diagnosed with a work-related injury, speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you can. It can mean the difference between getting medical treatment, paid time off, and a settlement you are entitled to or getting nothing at all. Here’s why:
1. A workplace injury lawyer can advise you about why it matters that workers compensation law is “no fault.”
Maybe your boss told you that you will not qualify for workers compensation because it was your fault that you were hurt. On the other hand, perhaps your employer acted in a way that was negligent and led to your injury.
A lot of people are surprised to learn that it usually does not matter who is at fault for a work-related injury. Workers compensation is “no-fault” insurance. It covers injured workers regardless of who was at fault for the injury. In return, employers cannot be sued for negligence by their injured employees.
There are some exceptions. If you got hurt because you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if you started a fight, if you were horsing around, or if you harmed yourself on purpose, your claim for benefits might be denied.
2. A workplace injury lawyer can advise you about “notice.”
“I fell down.”
“My shoulder just popped.”
“I think I have carpal tunnel.”
Managers, supervisors, and employers routinely disregard statements like these because, most of the time, they are not enough to count as “notice” of a work-related injury. While some workplace injuries are obvious the moment they happen, many are not so readily apparent. An injury may seem to be minor at first but get worse over several days. Others, like repetitive motion injuries, appear over time and are largely hidden from view.
The law places the burden of notice on the employee. In many cases, the notice needs to be:
- in writing, and
- filed within a specific time frame from the date of injury or diagnosis of injury. For example, you have 30 days in Missouri or 45 days in Illinois.
Unfortunately, too many workers do not learn this until after they have been injured. This omission can lead to delays in both reporting and treatment that can be fatal to a workers compensation claim.
3. A workplace injury lawyer can advise you about your rights and responsibilities for medical treatment.
The law does require an employer to pay for an injured worker’s medical treatment, but the employer also gets to choose the medical treatment. This means that injured workers have little choice about the time, place, and type of treatment they will receive.
An experienced workplace injury attorney will advise you to:
- Go to all your medical visits. Skipping appointments can lead to unnecessary problems. Your employer (or the workers compensation insurance company) may argue that you weren’t really hurt, or they may label you as “non-compliant” and stop treatment altogether.
- Avoid oversharing at your medical visits. The only topic of conversation at your medical visits should be your work injury and nothing else. What you say in those visits can be made a part of the medical record and used against you.
Are there any time limitations for filing for Workers’ Compensation?
Yes. The time limitations vary from state to state. In some cases, several time limits may apply. Even if you think your injury is minor and you’re positive that your employer will take care of you, calling a lawyer is the best way to protect yourself and your rights.
If you’re on the fence about if / when to consult an attorney, contact us for a free workplace injury consultation and we’ll let you know your options.